BASF Antwerpen N.V. today announced its intention to close its 115,000 annual tons maleic anhydride (MA) production facility by the end of 2009 and to withdraw all BASF activities from its site in Feluy, Belgium. BASF employs 133 people at the Feluy site, which is part of BASF Antwerpen N.V.
"Information and consultation procedures have been initiated today with the works council. We will start negotiations with the union representatives as soon as possible to ensure socially acceptable solutions for all employees who could be affected and to evaluate alternative employment options should the closing be effectively decided," said Wouter De Geest, CEO of BASF Antwerpen N.V.
BASF's MA business is suffering from unsatisfactory profitability due to overcapacity and resulting low margins together with the effects of the current economic crisis. Optimization measures implemented in Feluy over the past years have not been sufficient to secure a sustainably competitive cost structure. "A withdrawal from maleic anhydride production in Feluy would help us to focus on our core intermediates businesses and Verbund value chains such as butanediol and derivatives, as well as polyalcohols," said Dr. Tom Witzel, Group Vice President Diols & Polyalcohols Europe of BASF's Intermediates division.
MA serves mainly as a building block to produce unsaturated polyester resins. These resins are widely used as composite materials, particularly in shipbuilding, construction and automobile industries. MA is also used for many other applications, like water-soluble polymers and lubricants.